The over/under on regular season win totals are a gauge of what kind of year you can expect from your team. A few squads may greatly exceed or undershoot their projections but, for the most part, the totals set by sportsbooks tend to be pretty close.
Designed to really split bettors down the line, win totals are released early in the year, and then, barring any major shocks – like the potential Tom Brady suspension – they don’t move a ton over the spring and summer.
After free agency and some shocking off-season moves, some teams’ totals have shifted slightly to reflect the direction they’re trending (the 49ers started at 8.5 and are now sitting at seven after a flurry of player retirements).
That said, there are some win totals that seem like gifts to bettors given how the relevant teams are positioned at the moment. Before the preseason kicks off next month – and everyone gets a glimpse of what these teams can (or can’t) do – here are four win totals you may be able to take advantage of:
Arizona Cardinals (O/U 8.5 wins) – Arizona started this year at a head-scratching eight wins and the number hasn’t moved much since then. This team has hit double-digit wins the last two seasons under Bruce Arians and is right on track to do the same this year. Last year’s 11-win campaign came in the face of losing starting QB Carson Palmer for 12 games; Drew Stanton stepped in to go 5-3 and get the Cards into the playoffs in the tough NFC West.
The fear of Palmer going down again may have been the only reason this total isn’t higher, but even if the 13-year vet can’t stay upright all season, this receiving corps is great and the defense is ferocious.
The Cards have an ostensibly tough schedule, going up against teams with a combined record of 142-113-1 last season. But if you peel back the onion, it’s easy to see that hitting nine-plus wins will not be a daunting task. They have two games each against the Niners (who should be reeling this season) and Rams (perennial underachievers). They also have dates with below-average teams like the Saints, Browns, Vikings, and Bears and, when they do play quality teams like the Packers, Ravens, and Bengals, will be playing host!
The books may not have faith in Arizona, but you certainly should. Jump on this over while you still can.
Indianapolis Colts (O/U 11 wins) – Generally, betting on a team to win 12 games is a bad play, but that’s the play here. Why? Because that’s just how easy the AFC-finalist Colts’ schedule is this season. It also helps that this team had some solid offensive additions this off-season, like Andre Johnson and Frank Gore. But even if they hadn’t landed those vets, Andrew Luck and company would still roll through the 2015 season.
The Colts will only play four playoff teams from last season, one of which was the sub .500 Carolina Panthers. Even if they get thumped by the Patriots and Steelers again this season (they lost a combined 138-61 in three games against the two last season) it’s still hard to see where the three other losses – which would force a push – will come from.
Washington Redskins (O/U 6.5 wins) – Every conference needs a doormat, and this year that duty will likely fall to the Redskins. Last year’s punching-bag, the Buccaneers, have taken strides by getting a new franchise player at QB. Meanwhile, the Redskins (no-longer trademarked by the way) are once again rolling with RG3 in hopes he can revitalize a career, and a leg, that Mike Shanahan ruined.
The rest of the once dubiously nicknamed “NFC Least” have all improved and should put Washington in their place. And many of Washington’s “winnable” games – e.g. against the Bears, Jets and Falcons – take place on the road. If they have high hopes of knocking off the Bucs at home, they’re forgetting about last year when 2-14 Tampa took their lunch at FedEX Field, 27-7.
I don’t see seven wins on this schedule. Frankly, I don’t see how this total can stand for any longer. Jump on it now before it moves!
Miami Dolphins (O/U 8.5 Wins) – “What, the Dolphins?” you may be asking. “They’re supposed to challenge for a playoff spot this year.” Yes, but as history tells us, they’ll inevitably choke down the stretch. Miami haven’t broken the eight-win barrier since 2008. Last year, they were 7-5 and on pace for the postseason before losing three of their last four. The year before, they crashed and burned after reaching Week 15 at an 8-6 mark. (A 9-7 finish would’ve gotten them in.)
So, while a big off-season that included bringing in Ndamukong Suh has Phins fans dreaming of a postseason berth, lets slow the collective roll on that. Ryan Tannehill has shown signs of improvement, but he hasn’t proven he can get it done when it counts. The end of the regular season is for Tannehill what the Wild Card round is for Andy Dalton.
Miami has an unusual schedule this year, too, spending six of their first nine weeks on the road, and playing one of their three “home” games at Wembley Stadium in London. If you’re expecting a surge in the second half when they’re planted firmly at home, the Dolphins final four home games are against the Ravens, Giants, Colts, and Patriots. With the Patriots likely starting the season behind the eight-ball thanks to Brady’s suspension, the Colts and Pats should still be jockeying for seeding down the stretch.
Don’t say you weren’t warned when Miami has another late season collapse.
(Photo Credit: Greg Buch (FFSwami.com)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)
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